While A levels continue to be the traditional route into higher education, over a quarter (26%) of students accepted for study in 2015 were accepted from a BTEC qualification according to a study by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
The Progressions Pathways project was developed by UCAS to address the challenges faced by teachers, students, parents and universities in understanding the range of newer, non-traditional study routes into higher education. Learning programmes may now comprise a mixture of A levels, International Baccalaureate and Applied General qualifications (e.g. BTEC).
Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS Chief Executive said: “The aim of the project was to look across the whole landscape and provide information and advice for both learners and universities on the issues they should respectively consider to secure appropriate, fair and transparent progression to higher education for those holding less traditional qualifications. While all pathways can lead to university, an apprenticeship or employment, each has its own strengths and challenges in helping young people fulfil their aspirations.
James Kewin, Deputy Chief Executive of Sixth Form Colleges Association said: “Although Sixth Form Colleges deliver around one fifth of the A levels sat in England each year, BTECs are growing in popularity. Our latest analysis shows that 88% of Sixth Form Colleges are now offering BTEC qualifications.
“Study programmes that combine BTEC and A level qualifications are becoming increasingly common and have proved to be a highly effective way of helping young people to progress to higher education and employment. Overall, we think the take up of applied general qualifications and the new Tech levels is likely to increase as schools and colleges adapt to the introduction of the new style A levels.”
UCAS is a registered charity. They manage applications from around 700,000 people each year for full-time undergraduate courses at over 370 providers across the UK.